Chronological List of Biblical Texts

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This page attempts to enlist all the known biblical texts in chronological order and does not differentiate between the Judaic and Christian texts. By placing the texts within their chronological context, one can better appreciate the significance of each document and its role in shaping religious thought and tradition throughout history.

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Overview

The "chronological list of biblical texts" provides a timeline of the development and preservation of the sacred writings of the Judeo-Christian tradition. These texts include the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament, among other related apocryphal, non-canonical writings and may include ostraca (shards of pottery with inscriptions) as well. By tracing the historical context and origins of these texts, scholars can gain insight into the evolution of religious thought and practice over the centuries.

This list includes various manuscripts, scrolls, and codices, which are arranged according to their estimated dates of composition, transcription, or discovery. The timeline also reflects shifts in language, script, and cultural influences, offering a comprehensive overview of the transmission of biblical literature through time.

First Millennium BCE Texts

circa 650-587 BCE

Ketef Hinnom Scrolls
The Ketef Hinnom Scrolls, also known as Ketef Hinnom amulets, are the oldest known surviving texts from the Hebrew Bible, dating to around 600 BCE. The text is written in Paleo-Hebrew script and contains passages from the Book of Numbers, specifically a version of the Priestly Blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26. Discovered in 1979 CE at the archaeological site of Ketef Hinnom, near the Old City of Jerusalem, the scrolls are considered one of the most significant finds in biblical studies. They were dated paleographically to the late seventh or early sixth century BCE, which corresponds to the First Temple period.

Part of the Hebrew Bible

First Century CE Texts

circa 150-350 CE

Epistle to the Laodiceans

Dating: There's no direct dating available, but Theodore Beza identifies it with Epistle to the Ephesians and Pauline authorship to be read to many churches in the Laodicean area.
Author: Paul (possible)
Influenced by: Originator
Influenced: N/A
Earliest Known Copy: Fulda Manuscript, 546 CE
Codex: Codex Fuldensis
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class: Epistles
Part of Apocryphal Epistles.

circa 70-135 CE

Acts of Barnabas
The Acts of Barnabas

Author: John Mark, the companion of Paul the Apostle (possible)
Influenced by:
Influenced:
Earliest Known Copy: N/A
Codex: N/A
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class: Pseudepigrapha, Acts
Part of Apocryphal Acts of Apostels.

circa 60–70 CE

Epistle to the Ephesians

Dating: unknown / approximate
Author: Apostle Paul
Influenced by:
Influenced:
Earliest Known Copy: Papyrus 46, circa 175–225 CE
Codex:
Canon: Canon/New Testament
Class: Epistles (letters),
Part of New Testament

circa 60–70 CE

Epistle to the Colossians

Dating: written, according to the text, by Paul the Apostle and Timothy to the Church in Colossae.
Author: Paul the Apostle and Saint Timothy
Influenced by:
Influenced:
Earliest Known Copy: Folio 86–94, Papyrus 46, circa 175–225 CE
Codex: Codex Claromontanus
Canon: Canon/New Testament
Class: Epistles
Part of New Testament, Prison Epistles

circa 85-115 CE

Acts of Mar Mari

Dating: Known to be written in the late first century and in the beginning of the second century
Author: Saint Mari
Influenced by:
Influenced:
Earliest Known Copy: multiple manuscripts, circe 19th century
Codex: Library of the Rabban Hormizd Monastery
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class: Acts
Origin: Syriac Christian
Part of Apocryphal Acts of Apostels

circa 90-110 CE

Gospel of John

Dating: The gospel of John went through two to three stages, or "editions", before reaching its current form around CE 90–110.
Author:
Influenced by: Possible some version of Mark and possibly Luke, but this is debated.
Influenced:
Earliest Known Copy: Papyrus P52 18:31–33, 18:37–38.
Codex:
Canon: New Testament
Class:
Origin:
Part of Gospel of John.

Second Century CE Texts

circa 100-130 CE

Gospel of the Hebrews

Dating: circa
Author:
Influenced by:
Influenced:
Earliest Known Copy:
Codex:
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class: Gospel
Origin: Egypt
Part of Jewish-Christian Gospels

circa 120–215 CE

Secret Gospel of Mark

Dating: circa 125 CE,
Author: Unknown, Oral Gospel Tradition
Influenced by: Gospel of John (possible)
Influenced:
Earliest Known Copy: Mentioned in Mar Saba letter
Codex:
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class:
Origin:
Part of Gnostic Gospels

circa 125 CE

Apocryphon of James / Secret Book of James

Dating: circa 125 CE,
Author: Not known.
Influenced by: Possible gnostic influence
Influenced:
Oldest Known Copy: Codex I, Section 2,
Codex: Jung Codex, Nag Hammadi
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class/Genre: Pseudonymous
Origin: Egypt (possible)
Part of Apocryphal Epistles

circa 125–350 CE

Papyrus P52
The papyrus P52 fragment was part of a group purchased on the Egyptian market in 1920 CE by Bernard Grenfell, who selected several pieces for the Rylands Library and started preparing them for publication. However, he fell too ill to complete the task, and Colin H. Roberts took over, eventually publishing the first transcription and translation of the fragment in 1935 CE. Roberts found comparable handwriting in dated papyrus documents from the late first to mid second centuries CE, with the most instances from Hadrian's reign (117–138 CE). Since this gospel text likely did not reach Egypt before about 100 CE, he proposed a date in the first half of the second century CE. He considered the closest match to 𝔓52 to be an undated papyrus of the Iliad held in Berlin, with its estimated date around 100 CE, a date later confirmed. However, other comparator hands with dates extending into the latter half of the second century and even the third century have since been proposed.

Part of the Gospel of John / New Testament

circa 130-170 CE

Gospel of Marcion / Gospel of the Lord

Dating: 120 CE
Author: Marcion of Sinope
Influenced by: Gospel of Luke
Influenced:
Earliest Known Copy: Lost
Codex:
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class: Godpel
Origin: Sinope, Turkey (possible)
Part of Other Gospels

circa 135-165 CE

Gospel of Peter / Gospel according to Peter

Dating: Bart Ehrman places it in the first half of the second century.
Author: Apostle Peter (possible)
Influenced by: Synoptic Gospels/Oral Traditions
Influenced:
Earliest Known Copy: 8th-9th century CE
Codex: Nag Hammadi
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class: Gospel, Pseudepigrapha
Origin: Egypt (possible)
Part of Other Gospels

circa 145 CE

Gospel of James / Infancy Gospel of James / Protoevangelium of James

Dating: Scholars have concluded that the work was not written by the person to whom it is attributed, but was composed some time in the mid to late 2nd century.
Author: James (brother of Jesus) (possible)
Influenced by: Purported Oral Tradition
Influenced:
Oldest Known Copy: Papyrus Bodmer 5
Codex: Bodmer Library
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class/Genre: Gospel, Pseudepigrapha,
Origin: Greek (speculated)
Part of Infancy Gospels

circa 150 CE

Gospel of the Ebionites

Dating: It is thought to have been composed during the middle of the 2nd century, since several other gospel harmonies are known to be from this period.
Author: Not Known. (Irenaen Ebionites, Epiphanius of Salamis; he misidentified it as the "Hebrew" gospel)
Influenced by: Gospel of Matthew (possible, speculated)
Influenced:
Oldest Known Copy: Extant (brief quotations in a heresiology known as the Panarion, by Epiphanius of Salamis)
Codex: Not Available.
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class/Genre:
Origin: Gospel,
Part of Jewish-Christian Gospels

circa 150 CE

Infancy Gospel of Thomas

Dating: Believed to date latest to the 2nd century or earlier. Scholars generally agree on a date in the mid- to late-2nd century CE.
Author: Thomas the Israelite (this attribution is made in a medieval Latin version). The biblical Thomas (or Judas Thomas, Didymos Judas Thomas, etc.) is very unlikely to have had anything to do with the text. as the author seems not to have known much of Jewish life.
Influenced by: Gospel of Luke (possible)
Influenced:
Oldest Known Copy:
Codex: Nag Hammadi
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class/Genre: Gnostic, Gospel
Origin:
Part of Infancy Gospels

circa 150 CE

Epistula Apostolorum. (Latin for Letter of the Apostles)

Dating: Probably dating from the 2nd century CE, it was within the canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
Author: Ostensibly written in name of the apostles.
Influenced by: Gospel of John, Apocalypse of Peter, Epistle of Barnabas, and Shepherd of Hermas
Influenced:
Oldest Known Copy:
Codex:
Canon:
Class/Genre: Pseudepigrapha, Epistles
Origin:
Part of Apocryphal Epistles

circa 150 CE

Acts of John

Dating:
Author:
Influenced by:
Influenced:
Oldest Known Copy:
Codex:
Canon:
Class/Genre:
Origin:
Part of Apocryphal Acts of Apostels

circa 150 CE

Prayer of the Apostle Paul

Codex: Nag Hammadi Library.

circa 150 CE

Apocalypse of Peter / Revelation of Peter

Dating: Revealed by its use (in Chapter 3) of 4 Esdras, written around 100 CE.
Author:
Influenced by:
Influenced:
Oldest Known Copy:
Codex: Clementine literature
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class/Genre:
Origin:
Part of Apocalypse Gospels

circa 160 CE

Gospel of Truth

Part of Gnostic Gospels.
Codex: Nag Hammadi Library

circa 160 CE

Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul

Part of Apocryphal Epistles

circa 160–180 CE

Acts of Paul and Thecla

Dating: Jerome recounts the information from Tertullian, and on account of his great care to chronology, some scholars regard the text a 1st-century creation.
Author: Possibly a presbyter from Asia
Influenced by:
Influenced:
Earliest Known Copy: Oxyrhynchus Pap 6, circa fifth century CE
Codex: Oxyrhynchus Papyri
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class: Acts
Part of Apocryphal Acts of Apostels

circa 170 CE

Acts of Peter

Part of Apocryphal Acts of Apostels

circa 175 CE

Gospel of the Nazarenes

Part of Jewish-Christian Gospels

circa 175-550 CE

Unknown Berlin Gospel
Also known as the Gospel of the Saviour is a partial Coptic text from a previously unknown gospel, now part of the New Testament apocrypha. It is made up of a damaged parchment codex that the Egyptian Museum of Berlin acquired in 1961 CE, cataloged as Papyrus Berolinensis 22220. The text's significance was recognized in 1991 CE due to delays in processing numerous similar manuscripts, and its discovery was announced by Charles W. Hedrick in a 1996 CE lecture. The manuscript is believed to date back to the sixth century CE, with linguistic features indicating it was translated from an earlier lost Greek original. The supposed original Greek text is estimated to have been created in the late second or early third century CE based on its theological content and style. Unlike a narrative, this Gospel takes the form of a dialogue, a format commonly used in antiquity for instructional content. Scholar Alin Suciu suggests that the Gospel of the Saviour is not truly a gospel but instead falls under the Coptic category of "apostolic memoir" and was composed after the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE.

Part of Gnostic Gospels

circa 180 CE

Apocryphon of John

Part of Apocryphal Epistles

circa 180-210 CE

Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter / Coptic Apocalypse of Peter

Dated: .
Author:
Influenced by:
Influenced:
Earliest Known Copy:
Codex: Nag Hammadi
Canon: Apocrypha/New Testament
Class: Apocalypse,
Part of Apocalypse Gospels

circa 190 CE

Gospel of Judas
The Gospel of Judas

Dated: Second Century CE
Author:
Manuscript: Earlist known manuscript dates to 280 CE
Influenced by:
Influenced:
Part of Gnostic Gospels

Third Century CE Texts

circa 200 CE

Acts of Peter and the Twelve

Part of Apocryphal Acts of Apostels

circa 200 CE

Apocalypse of Thomas
The Apocalypse of Thomas

Dated: Second-Fourth Century CE
Author:
Manuscript: Earlist known manuscript dates to circa 750 CE
Influenced by:
Influenced:
Part of Gnostic Gospels

circa 200 CE

Letter of Peter to Philip

Part of Apocryphal Epistles

circa 220 CE

First Apocalypse of James

Apocalypse Gospels

circa 220 CE

Second Apocalypse of James

Apocalypse Gospels

circa 225 CE

Acts of Thomas

Part of Apocryphal Acts of Apostels

circa 240 CE

Acts of Peter and Andrew

Part of Apocryphal Acts of Apostels

circa 250 CE

Apocalypse of Paul

Apocalypse Gospels

circa 250 CE

circa 250 CE

Coptic Apocalypse of Paul

Apocalypse Gospels

circa 280 CE

Gospel of Philip

Gnostic Gospels

circa 290 CE

Acts of the Martyrs

Apocryphal Acts of Apostels

circa 290 CE

Acts of Xanthippe, Polyxena, and Rebecca

Apocryphal Acts of Apostels

Fourth Century CE Texts

circa 300 CE

Correspondence of Paul and Seneca

Part of Apocryphal Epistles

circa 340 CE

Acts of Peter and Paul

Part of Apocryphal Acts of Apostels

circa 340 CE

Gospel of Thomas

Other Gospels

circa 340 CE

Codex Sinaiticus
The Codex Sinaiticus

Dating: Codex Sinaiticus is generally dated to the fourth century, and sometimes more precisely to the middle of the 4th century CE. This is based on study of the handwriting, known as palaeographical analysis.
Author/Editor: Unknown

Part of Greek Old Testament / New Testament / Uncial Codices

circa 350 CE

Codex Vaticanus
The Codex Vaticanus is one of the oldest and most valuable manuscripts of the Greek Bible, encompassing most of the Old and New Testaments. It is believed to have been produced in the mid-fourth century CE, making it a very valuable source for understanding the early transmission of biblical texts. The codex is written in a clear, elegant uncial script on fine vellum and contains substantial portions of the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament) and the New Testament, though some parts, such as the end of Hebrews, the Pastoral Epistles, and Revelation, are missing. Codex Vaticanus is kept in the Vatican Library, where it has been held since the library's founding in the 15th century. Its exceptional age, high quality, and accuracy make it a critical resource for biblical scholars studying the history and development of the biblical canon.

Part of Greek Old Testament / New Testament / Uncial Codices

circa 350 CE

Third Epistle to the Corinthians

Part of Apocryphal Epistles

circa 350 CE

Gospel of Nicodemus

Other Gospels

circa 375 CE

circa 380-460 CE

Epistle of Pseudo-Titus
The Epistle of Pseudo-Titus is a letter that is attributed to Titus, a companion of Paul of Tarsus, and addressed to an unnamed ascetic Christian community of both men and women. The letter praises the virtues of chastity and criticizes all sexual activity, even within marriage, as sinful. Classified under the Apocryphal New Testament, the letter is preserved only in the Codex Burchardi, an eighth-century CE Latin manuscript discovered in 1896 CE among the homilies of Caesarius of Arles. The Latin text contains many grammatical errors, suggesting the author was not fluent in Latin and Greek. The origins of the epistle are uncertain, but it exhibits strong encratism and may have ties to the Priscillianist movement in fifth-century CE Spain.

Part of Apocryphal Epistles

Fifth Century CE Texts

circa 450 CE

Codex Alexandrinus
The Codex Alexandrinus is one of the most important and comprehensive ancient manuscripts of the Greek Bible, encompassing both the Old and New Testaments, as well as the Apocrypha. Dating from the early 5th century, this codex is noted for its completeness and has provided critical insights into biblical text and early Christian scholarship. Written on parchment and featuring a distinctive uncial script, Codex Alexandrinus is one of the three most significant early Greek manuscripts of the Christian Bible, along with Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. The manuscript is housed at the British Library in London and continues to be a valuable resource for biblical scholars and historians studying the transmission and textual variations of the Bible.

Part of Greek Old Testament / New Testament / Uncial Codices

circa 450 CE

Gospel of Mary
The Gospel of Mary is a non-canonical text that was found in 1896 in a fifth-century CE papyrus codex written in Sahidic Coptic. The Berlin Codex, containing the text, was acquired in Cairo by the German diplomat Carl Reinhardt. While the text is commonly referred to as the Gospel of Mary, some scholars do not classify it as a gospel since it does not focus mainly on recounting Jesus' teachings or activities during his adult life.

Part of Gnostic Gospels

circa 450 CE

Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus
The Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus is a fifth-century Greek manuscript of the Bible. The manuscript is called Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus because (a) it is a codex, i.e., a handmade book; (b) its parchment has been recycled. The uncial writing is continuous, with the punctuation consisting only of a single point, as in codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus.

Part of Greek Old Testament / New Testament / Uncial Codices

circa 450 CE

Acts of Timothy
The Acts of Timothy (Acta Timothei), is a New Testament apocryphal work from the fifth century CE. It focuses on presenting the apostle Timothy as the first bishop of Ephesus and details his death during a violent pagan festival in the same town. These Acts were known for many years only through a Latin translation (BHL 8294) that was part of the second volume of the Acta Sanctorum in 1643 CE. Photius, a knowledgeable patriarch of Constantinople, had read the Greek original and provided an account in his Bibliotheca (Codex 254). In 1877 CE, Hermann Usener edited the Greek original (BHG 1847), which had been found in Paris Codex (Gr. 1219), dating from the eleventh or twelfth century CE.

Part of Apocryphal Acts of Apostels

circa 450-650 CE

History of Joseph the Carpenter
The History of Joseph the Carpenter (Historia Josephi Fabri Lignari) is a collection of stories about Mary (the mother of Jesus), Joseph, and the Holy Family. It was likely written in Byzantine Egypt in Greek during the late sixth or early seventh century and survives in Coptic and Arabic translations, as well as a few Greek papyrus fragments. The text supports the idea of Mary's perpetual virginity and is part of the New Testament apocrypha that focuses on Jesus' life before he turned 12.

Part of Infancy Gospels

Sixth Century CE Texts

circa 544-944 CE

Acts of Thaddaeus
The Acts of Thaddeus is a Greek document written between 544 and 944 CE that claims to recount an exchange of letters between King Abgar V of Edessa and Jesus, leading to Thaddeus, a disciple of Jesus, traveling to Edessa. Scholars generally believe the Acts of Thaddeus was written in the seventh century at the earliest, though the exact dating varies. Nicolotti places it between 609 and 944 CE, aligning with the Image of Edessa's transfer to Constantinople, while Palmer suggests a narrower timeframe of 629-630 CE, though this is contested by Angelo Gramaglia. Mirkovic notes that the document is usually dated after the public appearance of the Image of Edessa in 544 CE, and the eighth-century CE iconoclasm controversy is considered a likely context. The Acts describes Thaddeus' journey to Edessa, where he performs miracles, including healing King Abgar.

Part of Apocryphal Acts of the Apostels

Seventh Century CE Texts

circa 610-800 CE

Infancy Gospel of Matthew
Also known as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew is part of the New Testament apocrypha and was significant in providing details about Mary's life, particularly before the Late Middle Ages. Research by J. Gijsel and R. Beyers suggests that the archetype of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew dates back to around 800 CE, while the composition may have originated in the first half of the seventh century. Gijsel notes that the representation of Joachim in Pseudo-Matthew was designed to reflect a Merovingian nobleman, specifically Dagobert I during his reign (629–639 CE). Berthold posits that the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew could have been composed around 650 CE, evidenced by its literary dependence on Vita Agnetis of Pseudo-Ambrose, which was referenced in De Virginitate in 690 CE. According to G. Schneider, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew was composed in the eighth or ninth century CE during the Carolingian dynasty. Pseudo-Matthew shares similarities with and may have drawn from the apocryphal Gospel of James and Infancy Gospel of Thomas.

Part of Infancy Gospels

circa 675 CE

Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius
The Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius, written in Syriac in the late seventh century, had a significant impact on Christian eschatological thought during the Middle Ages. The work was incorrectly ascribed to Methodius of Olympus, a fourth-century Church Father, and aimed to explain the Islamic conquest of the Near East.

Part of Apocalypse Gospels

Fourteenth Century CE Texts

circa 1300-1600 CE

Syriac Infancy Gospel
The Syriac Infancy Gospel, also known as the Arabic Infancy Gospel, is an apocryphal New Testament text that describes Jesus' early years. It may have been created in the sixth century CE and draws from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of James, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, and oral traditions. Only two manuscripts remain, dating from 1299 CE and the fifteenth or sixteenth century CE in Arabic, originating from northern Iraq and showing some influence from the Quran.

Part of Infancy Gospels

Fifteenth Century CE Texts

circa 1400-1700 CE

Gospel of Barnabas
The pseudepigraphical Gospel of Barnabas is a non-canonical gospel that was written in the Late Middle Ages and is falsely attributed to Barnabas, one of Jesus' apostles in this work. It's about the same length as the four canonical gospels combined and merges stories from the canonical gospels with Islamic elements such as denying Jesus' crucifixion. The gospel offers a detailed account of Jesus' life, beginning with his nativity (including the annunciation to Mary by the archangel Gabriel) and following his ministry. The gospel ends with Jesus instructing his followers to spread his teachings worldwide, while Judas Iscariot takes Jesus' place at the crucifixion.

Part of Other Gospels

Undated

circa

Apocalypse of Stephen

Dating: Not dated.
Author: Unknown
Influenced by:
Influenced:
Earliest Known Copy:
Codex:
Canon:
Class:
Origin:
Part of Apocalypse Gospels

See Also

References

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